Holly Nowak – Owner – HMN Resources – Taking the Leap – Episode 02


Hey there. Welcome to this episode of the Smarter Business Podcast. This time around we feature Holly Nowak founder and owner of HMN Resources. She is a neighbor of ours here at vidwheel, a fountain of HR knowledge, and an all around skilled business owner. Look or listen for Holly to say the least HR thing she can think of, her story about taking the leap into video marketing, and a lot of other relevant business info. If you like what you hear, please subscribe wherever you’re listening to this or watching this podcast. And please feel free to comment. We’re always looking for feedback. Welcome to the second episode of the Smarter Business Podcast. On this episode we have Holly Nowak of HMN Resources and Holly, if you’d like to introduce yourself. Thanks Neil. I am the founder and president of HMN Resources. We are an HR consulting and team effectiveness firm and we really concentrate in the areas of consulting. HR coaching, training and team effectiveness. Excellent and, Holly tell us about like kind of company size and you know this is some of what we’re gonna get into today I think. You’re a smaller company. How many how many employees contractors? So two employees. I don’t use any contractors. I like to go with an employee model for my firm my firm and have employees, but we’re a small group. We’re only two, we’re four years in and two employees one HR adviser that works more in a client facing role and then we have an HR coordinator who helps us both out. In addition to keeping some of the services that we provide you know interacting with the clients and keeping those going. All right. Kind of going off of that, you guys have a product that is both timely and, you know, we said we were going to kind of talk about it on this podcast. So, what is that and why do people want it, and or maybe in this case need it. Yeah. That’s with HR. Right? So, as many people are already aware and I’m finding that some still are not New York State did, last year, pass legislation that everyone needs to have every employer needs to train their employees on harassment. Well specifically last year sexual harassment prevention. And so we’re coming to nearly the end of that year. So if employers haven’t done the training yet you know the clock is ticking there’s only about a month left to do that. And New York State also passed an amendment last Monday to this law, which changed a few things I guess I should say on August 12th passed an amendment to these law this law that changed some things about how the training will be delivered. One of the big, I think, issues everyone had with the original piece of legislation is that it was although it should be and there should be some focus on it was all about sexual harassment and as we know in the workplace there are issues around other protected classes like age, race, religion, and things like that that should be addressed as well. And in that amendment that will take effect on October 11th many pieces of it. So after this initial training deadline they’ll be, I’m making an assumption, but that they’ll be putting out a new model that everyone can look to and I’m happy to see that they’re broadening that scope. You know again. So in terms of a product that you have that people may want though. Right. What is it? Yeah. So, we have a, I’m always really like to seek ways to bring technology into the HR space. There’s a lot of great technology out there now that can really help. And so we have an online learning platform that we have partnered with, Joobie. We also partnered with Ginine Capozzi over at Knowledge Force Consulting to develop, through this online learning platform, to develop harassment prevention curriculum that meets New York State, actually really I feel that it exceeds New York state standards it throughout the course. Employees can or our posed questions that they have to answer to move on. There’s open discussion and we can provide all of that reporting on each user specifically. How they progressed through the session, how they answered questions we can look for red flags in the way that they answered that questions and ultimately if you’re going to have your team doing this training and you know sacrificing the time to have a team do this training you want to make sure that A you can demonstrate that they did and you want to make sure that it was impactful so that they take something from it. And so it was really fun to develop something where we could make this you know leverage technology and learning technology to make it interactive and meet the New York state requirement. That’s excellent. And it’s available for anybody to take? I mean you have a specific web site? Yeah. We could put it in the show notes if you like. Sure yeah. If if anyone’s interested just [email protected] Just you know just let us know you’re interested in the online harassment prevention training.We’ve had a lot of people that have reached out to us to say no it’s really hard for us to get everyone together you know to do this training at the same time that’s a real challenge for us. You know we give each user a 30 day window in which they have to take the training. They can log in you know take part of it you know maybe do part of the modules you know maybe they can’t do them all in that one setting they can pause you know log back out log back in, complete the training. As long as they get it done in that 30 day window and we’re able to provide a, like I said, a report that shows how far they’ve. And usually in the middle of that 30 day window we’ll send our clients or you know here’s who’s completed it. Here’s who still needs to. Right. Yeah. Yeah. We used the system for vidwheel. Yeah. It was at the time Nickel City Graphics. Yeah. And yeah some of us went right up to that 30 day. That 30 day window. Yeah. But we got it done. You did. You did. You ended up with 100 percent completion rate. Yeah. You know we do. Like the week before it’s like anything the longer you know sometimes the longer you give people to do it the longer they’ll take. Right. But we’re able to go into the system and monitor it throughout and see how many people have completed it. How far people have come along in the training and you know, how they’re engaging. You know there’s a point system that’s assigned to the questions that they answer so we can see are they just clicking through and just you know they’re getting low points each time because they’re just trying to click through or are they actually you know getting close to that top score. So therefore you know going through being very mindful with it and and answering the questions. All right. Well I know all of us made it through that means you know who took it kind of the most seriously. Yeah I mean if you want to get into that we you know. We probably shouldn’t put that on a Podcast Holly. I don’t want to tell you how to do your job. If you want to talk about that. Yeah. We’d have to bleep it out. So actually, that’s great. And people can kind of reach out to you for that. Let’s let’s talk a little bit about part of the reason I thought you’d be a good fit for this podcast is you have had, you’ve kind of had that ‘aha’ moment with with video that you’ve used for marketing. Right? Yeah. I’ll kind of set up the story I guess and then you take over or we’ll see how this works. Sure. Yeah. So we had a product that we tried out that was designed for small businesses and trying to make it super affordable for them to get started with video. We called these QuickVids and the idea behind it was that we did essentially the same thing a lot of photographers would do with headshots sessions where we just sold very small blocks of studio time to make simple talking head videos and Holly decided to buy one of those. What made you kind of make that decision I guess? What made you make the initial purchase? Well it might be because you were right next door. Right. Neighbors. We have neighboring
offices. And I just you know I kept hearing about I kept hearing about it and I think there was one evening we are working in the office and you described to me and I’ve asked you to repeat this I don’t know if can. Ehhh. I will try and and summarize what you said. But you did a really nice job of explaining how video is a great way to give you know the businesses that you would like to attract a feel for who you are. And also you know maybe you know I’m not a fit for everyone. Right? I don’t want to be a fit for everyone. And so it also as many people as my watch a video they’re going to decide you know is this is this a fit for me. And I think it’s a great way especially in the work that I do which is with people you know a lot of the times when I talk to a new group or a new client I’m always insisting on well let’s get together let’s meet because I feel like you know if they’re going to trust me to work with their people they want to know who I am. And so when you told me that when you kind of described how video works and you know the ideas that people will see who you are and they can make that connection you know it kind of clicked for me to say you know this is an excellent way to for the work that I do for people to see who I am. And so I said you know what I’m really nervous about I’m so really nervous on this podcast too. You’ve been through it. I know I’ve been through several QuickVids, I’ve not really gotten all of them up there but you know. So, I said I need to try
it. I need to do it. And so the first one that I did was just a general overview of my philosophy surrounding HR. So how I feel that HR should work in a business. What are the steps that you should take if you’re looking at your HR function. How does that all tie together for a business? And so that was the first QuickVid that I did. Burak made it very easy. You know this you know I wrote a script. You know Burak he got he got plugged in another one of these recordings too so he’s getting a lot of not face
time. Yeah. So yeah. That’s good. All right. No but he did. And what I did was I decided that I would just write the script the way I talk. Right? So when I was talking to someone that I was sitting with and I would start to you know not only talk about what HMN’s service you know service offerings are but how I developed those and where that came from and what my philosophy was. I just said all right if I was sitting in from some front of someone talking about this how would I how would I say it. And like I didn’t worry so much that I was typing something up like an essay I just typed it as I was saying it in my head and that seemed to work the best. That’s exactly the way to do it. Because you want it to be conversational. Yeah. And so you know to that point whenever we do. We do a lot of talking head style videos and whenever possible we’d like to be Q and A style in a conversation like we’re having now. People actually will use, they’ll use their own language, they’ll sound like themselves. Versus when you script it. Right. Maybe they don’t. Yeah they probably come off stiff and that it’s. Reading you know scripted content is it’s tough. You have to be a pro to pull it off. Yeah. Yeah. It seems like he would be and and to that point. So then having it on this on the script and scrolling it was a lot easier for me to read that back because it was it was what I would say anyway. So, I knew it was coming and it was easy to read. And the fact that you wrote it and then you wrote it without kind of you know. I guess trying to have all the language be perfect to the businesses. Right. It wasn’t artificial. It was what I would say. Yeah it was. It was really easy and you know it took me a couple of months to post that first one. I had it. I watched it. You know if you’re not comfortable with video and not seeing yourself on video it’s almost too. I think Dave wrote about this in his article, but when you hear yourself. You don’t hear. When you speak you don’t hear yourself like other people hear you. And so when you hear yourself objectively I guess would be a way to describe it for the first time. You have to. You have to get used to yourself again. And so it’s just like seeing yourself on video. You know I watched it. I watched it many times and then finally I think it was the blizzard we had in January. Towards the end of January this year I just said you know what. I was sitting at home I’m like I’m just going to put it out there I’m just going to post it. See. I didn’t even know that. Yeah. So the blizzard. So you were snowed in. Yeah. I was snowed in and I had no
choice. Alright. It forced me to do it. So, there’s there’s probably two hurdles right. One is just taking the step to even try it. Right? Getting comfortable and standing in front of the camera and just trying it. Just trying it. And I guess something else I’ll say about that and say is you can also do retakes. Right. So what you see in the final version of that is not. But not in this podcast. You’re stuck. Whatever you say. Neil that’s not what you told me going in. I’m teasing. So and then so you can do it so you don’t have to. You know you don’t have to be perfect that first go around. You don’t have to. You know obviously it goes quicker the better you can nail it the first time but you don’t have to. And so there’s two hurdles. One is just doing it just rip the Band-Aid just go do it. If you really don’t like it you never have to put it out anywhere. But the second hurdle is if you’re really uncomfortable is you have to have other people look at it and then just put it out there. So if you know if you’re uncomfortable viewing yourself what I did is I had the HMN team look at it. So I had Emily and Kim look and they said ‘it’s great’. Put it out there. So, stop like with the self-doubt and just you know have other people take a look at it and people that you trust that would tell you if you should do something differently. And then just you need to just put it out there. Yeah agreed. I’ve got two points to follow on that with. So, the first would be that kind of when you finally decided to put it out there or whoever actually hit publish. What was the reaction? The reaction was great. I think I have the best engagement levels and this is this is you know this isn’t my speak. This is something you can help out here if I am saying the right thing or using the right terminology. But I had the highest engagement levels on LinkedIn that I’ve ever had. And the commentary was overwhelmingly positive. And I use it now. I was glad that I picked that script to the first one because that’s something that will hold true indefinitely. And so I’ve pinned it to the top of my LinkedIn page. Right. I’m going through a Web site revamp right now. I’m hoping that it’ll be something I’m gonna get on my Web page. It’s something that I can keep and keep using. Do you have it. Did you put it in your email signature by any chance? I did not. I did not. That’s a hot tip, right there. OK. Put it in your email signature and then anytime you send an email to somebody using GSuite. Right. If it’s up YouTube it it’ll preview at the bottom of the email. Which is a good way to kind of always attach video content to an email. Oh nice. People will check it out. So, yeah that’s my recommendation. So, part two of that is intro you kind of mentioned that like you know you wanted to introduce yourself to people. Have you had people since you’ve put that video out there kind of be like oh you know like you’re that maybe they almost just feel more comfortable chatting with you right off the bat because there’s already some level of rapport there? I guess what’s interesting and I guess what I didn’t realize about social media is even though you don’t directly have people reacting with whatever you’re putting out. People see it because I’ve had some people in the past year say ‘oh I saw that you did this’ or ‘I saw that you did that’ and they didn’t necessarily interact with that post or that information but they reference it. So, I do believe that people have had the opportunity to take a look at that and and probably, you know, make a decision even based on seeing you know this is this is part of who she is. Yeah. Yeah it helps. And yeah not to go too far back but it’s a small business like the sooner you can get to sort of that yes or no the the better it is. If somebody writes the video and they don’t want to do business with you. That’s as good as the other side of things. Right? Yeah. Like ‘I don’t know’ or I like this ‘person seems great’. Right. They both have value. And I think that was part of this speech that you gave me. Yeah. That that kind of. Maybe whatever that speech was. It made take action. But. I should remember that for my sales calls. I know! You hould have written that down or something. But yeah that was part of it. So, yeah you do. You know I do always want to get to you know the ‘no’ quickly because I don’t want to you know being a small business there is very very limited resources I have to dedicate to the whole development cycle and so you know; you know I’ve been doing this for four years now. I probably didn’t realize that in the first couple of years and I’d spend a lot of time on things that maybe didn’t go anywhere. But now I’m OK. Like you know. You know let’s get To your point. Let’s get to the now. Right. Yeah. If it’s not a fit, I’d rather known sooner than later. Yeah. OK. So already brought up, Dave wrote a blog post on being comfortable on camera which was something I have tagged in my notes as something we could chat about. I guess as a resource it does talk about things like hearing your own voice and why it sound so strange. Sticking within your routine. I don’t know. Like being comfortable on camera did you. Have you ever read the blog post itself? I did read it. I read it when I read it. When he first put it out. Every time you go on a QuickVid. Right? Because we send it as part of that package. Uh. I didn’t every time. I did read it the first time because. Did I help in any way? Yeah it did. It did. In the end so I think what it did for me was it helped me to understand how everyone kind of feels the same way about this. And it’s the voice thing it’s it seeing yourself on video. I mean we don’t do that that often even though we have video all over the place now. We really don’t go back and use it to see how we do where our mannerism is like it’s not something. So when you do a QuickVid where you are the focal point of a piece of video. Right. The only piece. You are the only piece. You are it. So there’s you know there’s the focus is all on you. You know I guess I can I can almost parallel that back to the training that I do and you know I could stand up and do you know harassment prevention training and I’ve been doing it for so many years and I have no problem doing it. But when you asked me to get up and talk about myself or even sometimes my business was I’m still at work on getting over I get you know I get really nervous about it. Sure. So I really think the big takeaway on this is you are more critical of yourself than anybody else is. And so again and I already said it but have somebody else take a look. Right. You know I had my team take a look. They they watched it. They said this is really good. You need to put it out. You know don’t. I guess. Don’t trust your own judgment especially when you’re being overly critical because you are way more critical about yourself on yourself than other people. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah absolutely. And everybody who’s got you know who’s in business has kinda some value to add. As long as they’re being kind of right you know honest and sincere. So, I think yeah I would agree. I think that people can be very overly critical of their own performance on a video. Right. Yeah. Yeah. When you’re the only when you’re the focal point you are that you are it. Content wise. Yeah you know it can be very hard. Let’s let’s go ahead and we’ll turn this over to kind of the main question of the podcast. Right. So it’s the Smarter Business Podcast. Part of the reason I wanted to do that was, I think there’s a lot of value in business owners and well just to anyone in business kind of talking to each other about the best way to do things. So, what is one way or one thing that you’ve done to make your business smarter? Yes. So you know I think you know given the work that I do you could expect that I might say ‘Well my team’ you know and I was always very careful to hire people that had skill sets that were complementary. But I think the one thing I did to make my business smarter just to take another angle on this is to hire somebody a really good bookkeeper. OK. We have the same bookkeeper. Yes. Which I referred to you. Yeah. Which I referred many people. Right. Yeah. Because you know for me definitely not one of the pieces of my but you know when you when you take that leap and go out on your own there it’s a lot more than just delivering the service that you’ve been delivering. Right. It’s I was fortunate that in my career I’d always had multiple accounts so I had a lot of pieces but there are some pieces that then you become responsible for; marketing, video, web site, accounting. Right. Bookkeeping. So I jumped in. I knew I should get some software to help. So, I did get quickbooks but I didn’t hire that person that knew how to set it up. I did it myself right. And so the painful process of getting some of that corrected. Because numbers are everything for your business, as you know, you need to know your numbers and know all of that. And so if I could go back and do it all again this is at the point that I brought the bookkeeper on that was. I got smarter. Yeah. Right? I got smarter. Like that. Right. Yeah. And so you know hindsight being 20/20 I wish that I had just as soon as I made the decision to get Quickbooks. I wish that I had hired her and put her and put her in play. Yeah. Yeah. I could’ve been smarter quicker. Yeah. Well you know. Everybody at their own pace but ultimately then to kind of encapsulate it. It’s hiring hiring to your weaknesses. Right. Right. That’s not a spot that you were
strong. Oh sure yeah. Strong. Yes. Absolutely. And I think you know it kind of goes along with what you know if you if you thought initially I was I had thought about it and thought ‘Yeah’ hiring people that have kind of complementary skill sets I’ve I’ve done that with the team that I have. And she’s just another member of the team. Yeah. And so you know. But you didn’t counter at the beginning of the podcast is this part of HMN. I did not. No. I did not. But she is. She is. I guess I she is an important part. All right. Next. Yeah. All right. Yeah. Well that’s excellent. That’s that’s a great tip that can kind of take away. So, Holly I thought of a fun activity as an HR person for us to do. So, on this podcast. I would like you to say the least HR appropriate thing that you can think of. Go ahead. All right. BEEP. Perfect. Alright. We kind of end every one of these with the same way that we do our interviews for video and so on with an open ended just kind of question when we did Joe Neiman’s podcast he did a book recommendation. If you have anything to add, any tidbit that you think the audience might be real interested in. I will give you a chance to say it. Sure. You could you could even just try to sell to the people if you like. Buy our stuff. Now you put the pressure on. Now we’re talking about taking the leap right. We are talking about taking the leap into video. I think what I would just say in general is just to you know taking the leap if you have something that you want to do try it. Do it. You know I’ve always had a personality where I’ve got to stick my toe in. I’ve got a very. And I think we talk about this. I think most entrepreneurial people are calculated risk takers. I probably am one to a fault. Just do it. Sometimes you know just put it out there just do it. I often you know hold back probably too much. Yeah. All right. So just go for it. Just do it. Take the leap. Yeah. Yeah. The the way that I’ve always kind of put it out there and it’s that same type of thing and it takes a lot of the pressure off. Right. As I always talk about hitting singles. Right. So a lot of people will plan, plan, plan. Try to get it all perfect so they can you know hit a homerun. Knock it out of the park and it’s or you take little elements of what you’re trying to do and use try to hit a single. And see if like say people are interested in a certain product or whatever it is. And it’s good low risk way to do it because if you if you miss your it’s not the end of the world kind of thing. Thank you for being on. You and you know when we air will will push your service out there a little and hopefully so you know people enjoy what they’ve heard and some of the advice that we’ve gone through. All right. And I’ll just I’ll just put it out there too. I’ll make sure I put it
out. Oh yeah. You’ll share it. I’m sure. That’s right. Yeah so. All right. All right. Thanks Holly. All right. Thank you. There you have it. That wraps up this episode. Take advantage of Holly’s online harassment training course. Use video to select your market. Make sure you have a great bookkeeper and even in HR don’t take things too seriously subscribing comment to help us grow our audience and thanks for checking us out.

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